I’ve spent the last three articles in this series extolling the virtues of bands I saw at Reading Festival. So perhaps it’s only fair to talk about a different festival. Glastonbury. The GOD of festivals.
I have only been to Glastonbury once. In 2009 to be precise. I have T-shirt to prove it, which I happen to be wearing as I type (purely coincidentally, you understand). The headlining acts of the Pyramid Stage were phenomenal (not an Adele or Ed Sheran in sight back then): Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and Blur. For someone who had once been a dedicated follow of Albarn, Coxon, James and Rowntree, the discovery that Blur were on the menu was incredibly exciting.
But, as anyone who has been will happily attest, Glastonbury is not just about those headline acts (a fact with which you should readily console yourself as the progenitor of those mathematically themed album titles slouches towards Worthy Farm).
Had Blur not been performing at Glastonbury in 2009, I’d have still been a very, very happy chap. And one of the reasons for my happiness was British Sea Power. Seeing them performing in the relatively confined space of the Avalon stage was an intense – almost religious experience.
I remember being happy on pretty much every level it is possible to be: intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, even physically. Being there, listening to grainy basslines, slashing chords and frenetic vocals I felt a primal connection to the music which you don’t get very often. I was spellbound.
I’d bought the first album, from which ‘Apologies to Insect Life’ comes very soon after its release. I don’t think I’d heard anything from it. I may not have even read much about it. But I was intrigued by it. The Decline of British Sea Power had a cover which implied sympathy with some long past time – some era of austerity and, as the title implied, decline.
The music contained within was all of those things and more. It was angular, exciting, dirty, thrashing and intelligent. They became, instantly, my new favourite band. And the spell cast by that first of their albums has never worn out. I listen to The Decline… on a ridiculously regular basis to this day.
But why wouldn’t you?